How Does the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Obamacare Affect Your Military/Veteran Healthcare?

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
How Does the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Obamacare Affect Your Military/Veteran Healthcare?

What type of healthcare do you have?

VA Health Care

The ACA will not have any major effects on VA healthcare. It may influence the costs of some prescription drugs and some medical equipment. It’s still unknown how it will affect costs, if at all.

All healthcare plans provided by the VA satisfy the individual mandate.  You won’t need to seek other healthcare or be fined if you are enrolled in:

  • VA Health Care
  • Spina Bifida Health Care Program (SBHCP)
  • Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Program (CWVV)
  • Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)



No change if you already have TRICARE.

TRICARE satisfies the individual mandate. In 2014, some people who don’t have “minimal essential coverage” will incur a tax penalty. Don’t worry. If you have TRICARE, you won’t be fined. You already have enough coverage to satisfy the law.

The ACA won’t affect the quality of your healthcare. It generally doesn’t change anything about your eligibility, the care you receive, its cost or how it’s administered.

How the ACA expands TRICARE for LIfe:

The ACA will open up TRICARE for Life (TFL) to military retirees, their spouses, dependents, and widow/widowers who are eligible for Medicare Part B.

TRICARE for Life supplements and acts as a secondary payer for Medicare Part A. You must have Medicare Part A and enroll in Medicare Part B to enroll in TFL. (You pay premiums for Medicare Part B.)

If you qualify for Medicare Part A but decline to enroll in Medicare Part B, you can’t enroll in TFL.

NOTE: You can choose to enroll later during an annual enrollment period, but there will be a late fee.

TRICARE change for some - unrelated to the ACA:

Unrelated to the ACA is a reduction in who can get TRICARE Prime. Forced spending cuts (sequestration) will affect people who live over 40 miles away from an active or former military instillation. They will lose TRICARE Prime and be enrolled in TRICARE Standard. There will be a waiver you can fill out to try and opt out of the change. To opt out, you need to live within 100 miles of an instillation. Rules related to this change are still in flux.  Check the TRICARE website to make sure you have the latest information.

Will dependants up to age 26 be covered? 

Unlike other insurance plans under the ACA, TRICARE does not extend benefits to dependent children 26 or younger.  Normally, TRICARE is only available for dependent children until age 21 - or age 23 if a full time student. A new law allows dependent children to enroll in TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) until age 26. But TYA is different from ACA coverage for children under private insurance because it requires an additional monthly premium. The premiums were $176/month for TYA Prime and $152/month for a TYA Standard enrollment in 2013.